Hussain Ahmed

The Blue Side of a Broken Mirror

I once lived !50! !10! in a room
packed with empty snail shells

and I could only rely on the needle’s eye
to predict when next !50! it would rain

until my heart stops !50! being a burden
no matter how big it swells. the men stayed

away from the walls, except she stops to push
and they do not cry to the open sky, they fear

it would cost them their erections. !50! !10!   where I come from,
the women do not visit the graveyard. on the walls of their rooms

are transition elements, scribbled in oil paints. it’s a sign the seed would exit
her body how it entered or in[verse]. today, I learn a new way !50!  to look

at my mother, she grew new rib bones !100!  overnight
her eyes were ripe mangoes on a rotten stalk, but it wouldn’t fall

no matter the storm. she asked if I saw her face the last time I had my back
against the mat in the labour room, !200! she asked

if I saw the faces !100! !50! !5! of all my lost friends.
afraid that my mouth would lose its shape if I chisel out a tooth

in protest, I silently fall in love with a room filled with ashes. each time,
I bite on my tongue because it reminds me of how my own blood tastes,

could it be that nothing gets lost? maybe the girls squeezed through the cracks on the walls,
to make orphan of their parent’s faith, !100! hopeful that they may find a new face

from the other side of the broken mirror. they got ripped off their names
before they were lowered !200! inside the ground

I become nameless, even as I walked out of the terminal. I must let go all my names,
if I crave so much of the nectar !50! !25! !5! that drip from the cracks on the mirror.

Hussain Ahmed is a Nigerian writer and environmentalist. His poems are featured or forthcoming in Prairie Schooner, The Cincinnati Review, Magma, Nashville Review, and elsewhere. His chapbook was a semifinalist for the 2018 Black River contest.